In the middle - Keep staff batting for you

Are you just starting your first year as a middle leader? An internal appointment? Taking over from a popular and successful colleague? You may consider yourself fortunate not to be starting at a new school with a new set of procedures to learn and a team whose strengths and weaknesses need evaluating from scratch. But being promoted from within can bring another set of pressures and challenges. People will be watching to see what you change and what you don't, whether it's your dress sense, your personality or schemes of work.

In the world of sport there has been one internal promotion who has taken to his role with considerable success. Kevin Pietersen, the new England cricket captain (pictured), took over from the incredibly successful and popular Michael Vaughan with the added difficulty of having two players in the team who have held the job themselves on a temporary basis.

So what has Pietersen done so well? First of all, his own performances have been exceptional, providing a lesson that when we take over a new position, we mustn't forget the basics of our teaching and classroom management.

Second, he has inspired his star performer "Freddie" Flintoff, a former captain himself, by publicly proclaiming his talents and giving him the confidence to go out and perform. Likewise, when you're in your first middle leaders' meeting, don't be afraid of telling others how good your staff are and what they are doing well, rather than being tempted to claim the credit yourself.

Lastly, Pietersen has brought back Steve Harmison, a highly talented performer who had even retired from one part of the game, by taking the time to speak to him in private and show him how valued he is. So don't wait for your colleagues to be looking for jobs before telling them how grateful you are for the work they do.

After all, it doesn't matter what team you lead: you can only achieve true success with the support of colleagues. I only hope, as I write this, that both you and "KP" keep winning!

Paul Ainsworth, Deputy head, Belvoir High School, Leicestershire

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